How Unified Communications Help You Stay Connected and Serving Customers During a Crisis

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Many small businesses haven’t planned enough for what they should do in the event of a crisis or emergency. It’s why in worst-case scenarios, most SMBs without a disaster recovery plan never reopen again.

Start with the people who are key to your business: your customers. You need to have a plan in place to stay connected and provide service to customers during a crisis or emergency. Implementing Unified Communications (UC) for your small business can help you stay in touch, even if the worst should happen.

What Are Unified Communications?

So much of transforming customer experience today is focused on meeting customers where they are, whether that’s via telephone, email, text message, or messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. The goal is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible, removing the friction from customer service interactions by making it easy to get in touch with you and stay up-to-date.

Keeping your business operational during an emergency situation is critical. Think of UC as the “swiss army knife” of communications during an emergency. It puts a variety of tools at your fingertips when communication matters most, bringing each of your organizations communication channels together on a single platform.

You won’t need to comb through your email, text messages, voicemail, and chat apps to find a key piece of information when you need it. UC also simplifies the process of getting in touch with you when you’re on the go, seamlessly rerouting calls so that a client or coworker doesn’t have to try multiple numbers to reach you.

The Waffle House Standard for Crisis

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses an interesting metric when they’re trying to determine the severity of a disaster: which menu the local Waffle House is using. While the “Waffle House Index” sounds like a confusing way to measure a crisis, it’s a testament to how detailed their disaster preparation really is.

Staying open is a major part of the Waffle House brand, and that includes after a hurricane, flood, power outage, or any other crisis. Because it’s so important to their identity, they’ve put a lot of planning into what they can serve if they don’t have electricity or running water or if supplies are limited.

The Waffle House Index illustrates a key concept of crisis readiness: You need to be prepared. Know what can go wrong, and make a plan for it. We’re not just talking about natural disasters, either—the same goes double for a data breach, PR misstep, or service outage, for example.

Practice your plans so you and your team can go on autopilot and do what needs to be done, even under pressure. Try to pivot from reactive to proactive as quickly as possible.

This enables you to check the horizon for trouble while your team is taking care of what you already know needs to happen. Rather than spending your time figuring out how to get your phones running, you’ll be able to focus on what to do with the information your customers and vendors are giving you.

Unified Communications in a Crisis or Emergency

Unified Communications can be extremely helpful in a crisis or emergency by providing a centralized system for executing your crisis readiness strategy at scale. Because your communications are already in the cloud, you and your customers will still have access to your phone system, email, messaging, and more.

You can also use your UC system to execute your communications strategy at scale. Like a 21st-century phone tree, you can get in touch with critical employees to get your plan together and take action.

You can also get in touch with customers over any channel to communicate key information about what’s happened, what they can expect, and what you’re doing about it. This helps you make sure that you’re out in front of a crisis and ready to respond to whatever comes your way.

What You Can Do Right Now

Nobody wants to think about the worst case scenario, but taking the time to make a plan in advance can mean the difference between staying open and permanently shuttering. By putting all of your company’s communications together in the cloud, UC prepares you to remain in touch with customers and employees and weather the storm.

  • Contact your ISP or Cox Business (if located in one of our service areas) to simplify and streamline your communications
  • Use UC to improve your responsiveness to customers.
  • Create plans in advance for anything that could go wrong, and practice them with your team.
  • Set expectations with your team and customers as the crisis develops.